Kathmandu: Bhugol Park Ummedwar Mela, the first of its kind in South Asia, concluded on a high note in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
The Mela provided a unique opportunity to all candidates from Kathmandu valley to share their vision as per Election Commission Nepal’s guidelines, according to Bhugol Park, an exclusive public polling and survey platform.
The program had an arrangement of canopy reservations for candidates who wanted to have a direct conversation with voters. A total of 30 canopies were provided for free on a first come first serve basis. Candidates demonstrated their campaign materials such as banners, brochures, and manifestos, and interacted with voters in the canopies.
As many as 72 candidates and more than 4,000 visitors participated in the Mela, according to the organizer. A total of 42 candidates delivered their remarks during the one-day event.
Bhugol Park Ummedwar Mela was an initiative by hamroneta.online, a civic and media campaign focusing on the electoral system and monitoring of people’s representatives.
During the last 30 years, the trust gained by the major political parties has eroded due to their lack of performance while in power. This disenchantment has led voters to flock to new and alternative candidates for elections, said Simón Dhungana, the organizer of the event. “While that has presented itself as a choice to voters while electing candidates, in reality, due to lack of proper comparable information, true information has not flowed to voters to make their choice.”
Sharing that the event provided equal opportunity to all candidates to convey their ideas and vision, he said: “When we buy any consumer goods we often check multiple products but when we elect candidates we do not get a chance to properly vet the candidates in a single setting such as interactions, debates etc.”
Candidate Mela is a totally new concept in Nepal. I felt this kind of platform helps reduce campaign costs, shared Sajana Maharjan, Data Governance Director at the Asia Foundation. “This type of event help in evidence informed decision-making for the voters. A beauty of democracy.”
This type of event provides an opportunity to have an open discussion between the candidates and voters which, in the long run, helps strengthen a vibrant democracy, Dhungana said.
Candidates from Kathmandu valley including Dr Toshima Karki, Ramesh Kharel, Pukar Bam, Dr Pranaya Rana, Dr Archan Shamsher Rana, Sushant Shrestha, Aakash Pokharel, KP Bramhacharya, Kiran KC, Kunti Pokharel, Dambar Shahu, Thakur Mohan Shrestha, Shashi Bikram Karki, Jesan Baidhya, Shailesh Ratna Shakya and Shree Gurung were present in the event.
The organizer has also uploaded the major speeches by the candidates on their official channel.